Revolutionary for Country Backward in Animal Welfare
Major Japanese cosmetic manufacturer Shiseido decided on February 28 to discontinue the animal testing it had long been conducting for the development of new products. The decision was obviously prompted by the new European Union regulations that put a total ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics throughout the EU market after March 11. Shiseido said that after April it will use alternative methods using cells and artificial skins to check the safety of its products.
Animal testing has been performed across the world for the purpose of expediting medical research and developing daily necessities like medicines, cosmetics and detergents. Its origin dates back before the 17th century. The movement to oppose animal testing has an equally long history as it involves unethical conducts such as applying toxic substances on animal skins and eyes.
Britain enforced a law regulating animal testing in 1876 for the first time in the world. But it was only after the 80’s that the anti-animal testing movement spread across the world. In the United States, no legal ban was put in place but cosmetic companies voluntarily abolished animal testing in response to the outcries among consumers. Britain imposed a total legal ban on animal testing for the development of cosmetics in 1997. Those who conduct animal testing for purposes other than development of cosmetics have since been required by law to get permission from the Home Office after proving that there are no alternatives and that the pain imposed on animals is kept minimal.
In contrast, Japan has no laws that make such permission mandatory. No official data are available on the number of animal tests conducted annually or the location of facilities that carry out such tests. Moreover, the consumer awareness of animal testing remains quite low. In recent years, campaigns to raise awareness of animal testing have been promoted in Japan by British natural cosmetic brands such as “THE BODY SHOP” and “LUSH”. But no Japanese brands have come forward to follow suit.
In that sense, the latest decision by Shiseido may well be called revolutionary for a country still backward in animal welfare. Japan’s so-called research whaling has been a diplomatic issue for years now. More recently, pet animals and livestock left on their own after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 have attracted nationwide attention. Amid the growing call for the conservation of the nature and environment, people should stop dominating over animals and create a society where humans and animals can coexist on friendly terms.
Written by: Ayako Shimatani